Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Dream Thieves, According to The Man

Sometimes I like to recommend books I love to The Man, and sometimes he reads them even though they don’t all have fighting scenes or superheroes or sports.

I asked him to read The Raven Boys.

“Yeah, it was good,” he said like that’s it. Good.

I bullied him into reading suggested he read The Dream Thieves.

“It was good,” he said.

“Better than good,” I said, thinking of the strain between Adam and Ronan, Adam and Gansey, Adam and everyone.

“I felt bad for Adam,” he said. “Like, his dad beats him, then he goes to see Blue, who won’t kiss him. So he’s like, ‘Why won’t you kiss me?’ And she’s like, ‘If I kiss my true love he’ll die.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh.’ And she’s like, ‘But the real reason is because I know it’s not you.’ And then she scampers up the hill with Gansey where they, like, rub faces.”

He shrugged.

“But I like the cars.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Currently: An Embarrassing Teen Tracey Confession

As part of my 2016 goal to be the kind of blogger who actually blogs, I’m joining the biweekly Currently post. I will do my best to make my supremely uneventful life sound thrilling.

I’m doing this thing where I wait for an entire series to be published before picking up book one. Better to binge read, my dears. I’ve only been moderately successful. (Patience isn’t really my thing.)

I read Cinder. Then I told myself I’d wait until book four to read on. Except I gave up and read Scarlet. And that was great, aside from the yearlong wait for Cress, which I didn’t read because I knew I’d be forced to wait a year for Winter.

I waited. And waited.

It was a really long time.

Then, this weekend, I finally started Cress. Followed it up with a serving of Winter, which has kept me glued to my Kindle whenever I’m not doing the day job thing to keep books in my bookcase.

I’m nearing the end and still loving it. All of the characters are great, but I’m not sure anyone can beat Scarlet and Wolf—especially their reunion. Those two melt my icy heart.

So. I saw The Martian.

Wait, first a disclaimer. When I was younger I was in love with Matt Damon. I clipped a photo of him from a magazine, framed it, and kept it in my room. It was going to be something we laughed about when we were married.* “Hahaha, darling. Remember when I had a photo of you on my bureau before we even met? Oh, how droll.”

Not that I thought about it much. Anyhow, you should know that before I tell you what I thought of The Martian. I might be biased.

I was worried, going in, that it was going to be one long snoozefest, what with him being trapped alone in space. Alone. But I figured, why not? (See also, Matt Damon.)

And it was good. Funny and interesting—science fiction, yes, but with a hefty dose of realism. It felt plausible that this man could live on Mars, in those conditions, for as long as he did. (Please keep in mind that I’m no botanist or physicist or person who enjoys long division, so realistic to me might not be realistic to someone with a sciencey brain.)

This actually has nothing to do with Jared Leto’s face. (Though you’re welcome for that.) I’ve been listening to this on repeat as I plan my next WIP, which has some boy vs. girl elements. This is war, indeed.

Female friendship. When I was in college, I studied abroad in New Zealand and became quick, close friends with a group of girls, most of whom I hadn’t met before. We studied together. Traveled together. Jumped out of planes together.

Typical girl bonding.

I wanted to write a story with a group of girls who were family, who had lives outside one another but whose lives centered on one another. I wanted to write a story about what we’ll do for our friends, what it means to be best friends—and all the messy, complicated stuff that comes with it.

Now let’s see if I can pull it off…

Freezer repair didn’t cost $600. That new fridge/freezers didn’t cost even more than that. That I was Elsa and could create my own freezer system with a flick of my wrist.

Pumpkin the Raccoon, who has her own Instagram profile and 570,000 followers. And who is, undeniably, the cutest raccoon ever.

What’s new with you?

*This was my backup plan in case my thing with Leonardo DiCaprio fell through.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

On Reading, Writing & Addictive TV

I tried.

I even had one of those reminder things set on my calendar to yell at me twice a week about being lazy and not writing my blog posts like those highly organized and industrious bloggers. (You know who you are.)

I even knew that on Tuesdays we post Currently. The problem is that I spent half this week with mixed up days. I blame the day off on Monday and a weekend full of Making a Murderer. My brain is still 84 percent righteous indignation, so I’m sure you can understand.

Anyhow, two days late, but isn’t half of winning playing the game? Even if it’s on the wrong day? On the wrong field? GIVE A GIRL A BREAK.

I’m feeling rather British with the new electric tea kettle I added to my writing space. It makes it a lot easier to drink fifty cups of tea while attempting to create worlds and whatnot.

The downside (because of course there’s a downside, this is Real Life) is that I’m forced to choose between hot tea and electricity, what with the number of times the tea kettle, upon reaching a rolling boil, shuts off the entire right side of my condo. And then The Man has to come home and wonder whether writing in the dark is some sort of metaphor for the state of my mind while attempting to write the first line of this new story.

Yes. Yes, it is.

I’ve basically promised my firstborn child to The Man should I not read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One soon. It’s not really that huge of a motivator considering my firstborn child would be his, but he says it with menace so I get the point. Plus I want to read it anyway, even though I’m not into video games and am, in the words of my dear husband, so not fun. 

I’m also antsy to read Marie Lu’s The Young Elites. The Man got me a signed copy for Christmas because despite his child-stealing threats he’s a nice guy.

I try not to brag about my ability to binge (because some people call sitting on the couch all day lazy) but I’m going to brag about my ability to binge: In under two days this weekend, I’d watched all Making a Murderer episodes. I have three recommenations:
  1. Stay away from cops.
  2. Stay away from Wisconsin.
  3. Watch this show, pronto.
Aside from the true crime documentary, I also watched The Shannara Chronicles, which was surprisingly good and filled the Game of Thrones–sized hole in my life. (Though no one will take the place of Tyrion, may he never meet the sharp edge of George R. R. Martin’s pen.) The two female leads are equally kickass and all sorts of awesome, and Will is a fun sort of idiot who I can’t help but like. I’m on board, even though they killed the super hot elf whose voice was an exact replica of Finn’s from The 100.

I also watched Shadowhunters, which hahahahahahahahahaha. 

I’m pretty much playing this song on repeat as I brainstorm my next friendship-heavy story:

Writing a multiple POV novel for the first time. Writing third person for the first time. Whether I’m clinically insane or just headed in that direction.

The nine gajillion 2016 books I’d like to download to my brain right now. And I’m both anticipating and anti-anticipating The Raven King because A) the series will be over and B) Gansey’s life will be over. And I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

That you’ll check out this post about a young black girl who was frustrated with a lack of diversity in the books she was reading. She decided to start a book drive (check out the hashtag #1000BlackGirlBooks), and she’s aiming for 1,000 books with black girls as the main character.

Writer friends! Writing a book is such a mental game for me, and I can be pretty mean to myself most of the time. I tell myself I’m not capable. I tell myself I’ll fail. I tell myself my ideas are crap and my words are dumb and I’m having a really, really bad hair day. (Okay, that last one is true 99 percent of the time.)

So I’m happy I have friends to support me. My lovely CP Liz Parker is the equivalent of a cheerleader and pro-bono psychiatrist, and she gets full credit for my sanity.

What’s currently making you happy?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Year, New Goals


Contrary to popular belief, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

(The earth doesn’t have a face. Unless...)

But I have been MIA around here. I could say it was a short blogging vacation, but the truth looks more like this:
busyness + laziness x holidays = no blogging
It’s a new year, though. I have in me at least four months of pretending I’m going to be a better version of 2015 Tracey. And that includes reviving this dusty space.

I’ve read so many great books! I’m plotting a new story! There are Things happening that I miss sharing with you in longer than 150-word blips on Twitter.

Consider that my first writer resolution for this year. Here’s the rest:

Read more outside YA.
I did a quick scan of the books I read in 2015 and realized a couple things:
  1. I barely read any adult or middle grade novels this year.
  2. I spent an obscene amount of money on books.

I’ll probably always be spending an obscene amount of money on books, but this year I plan to make more of those nonfiction, adult fiction, NA, and middle grade. There’s an especially large number of MG books on my TBR list, including The Nest by Kenneth Oppel and Jon Klassen, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, and Lindsay Eagar’s forthcoming Hour of the Bees

Go easier on myself.
If I left my CPs the same sort of comments I leave myself while writing, I wouldn’t have any friends. I’m not entirely sure why I think it’s okay to tell myself “Worst sentence in the history of the written language” or “THIS BOOK IS A PIECE OF TRASH” when I’d never even think that of a friend’s manuscript, but there you have it. I am a Mean Girl to myself.

I’ll be honest: I had a really difficult time with this in 2015. I was writing a book that I has such a grand vision for—this type of prose and that type of character development. It needed to feel a certain way. And mid-draft, it didn’t. I just about convinced myself the story would never end up on paper how I saw it in my mind—and I wasn’t too nice about it.

But then something happened: I finished it. I revised it. More than once. And it’s now my favorite of all the books I’ve written. I should have trusted myself to get there—maybe not in draft one, but eventually.

This year, I want to be kinder to myself. I’m gearing up to write something new, and my goal is to remember that I felt this way before. That’ll help me be nicer to me when something’s not perfect. It can get there, eventually.

Stop comparing.
Is it possible to be a writer and not compare yourself to others? To not compare your book to others? If you can do it, you’re required by law to share your secret with me.

I easily let the fear of not being good enough get to me. And it’s hard to write what with all that “will I ever get there?” stuff going on my head. My goal is to forget don’t have a book deal. To forget that my first draft isn’t as good as the amazing published novel I just read.

I read a quote somewhere by someone (if you know, hit up the comments) that said something like, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s end.” Your draft isn’t going to be as good as a published novel.

(If it is, I might hate you a small bit.)

This year, I don’t want to spend time worrying about whether I can tell the story how it needs to be told or whether my prose is perfect enough or if I’ll even sell the book. I’m writing for the love of writing and hoping everything follows from there.

What are your 2016 goals?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Happy Release Day, Sweet Madness

I love the mystery of the Lizzie Borden murders: Did Lizzie Borden kill her father and step-mother one night in 1892? And if so, why?

There’s no answer, in case you’re skimming ahead. (Well, really, there is an answer. I just don’t have it. Nobody does, except for the dead.)

But authors Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver take a guess in their YA horror novel, Sweet Madness. It’s narrated by the Bordens’s maid, Bridget Sullivan, a historical figure who was there the day the bodies were discovered and may (at least in this fictional account) be able to shed light on what really happened in that small Massachusetts town.

I’m so excited for this to be out in the world. If you’ve never read anything by the authors, here’s what you need to know: They do creepy well. Like, disturbingly well. They’re also great at telling fast-paced and engaging stories that take off running and don’t stop until way past your bedtime.

Want to know more? Go on, have all the links:

What’s your favorite scary story?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Review: The One Thing

Today marks the release of Marci Lyn Curtis’s The One Thing, which not only features a feisty heroine, a cute boy, and a bit of magic, but the best little kid ever. Here’s why you should read it:

Maggie Sanders is my kind of heroine. We’d never be friends because our personalities are basically the same and we’d get in some stupid fight because we’re both quick to anger, then we’d never speak again because we’re both terrible at apologies. It’d be sad.  

Anyway, I loved being in her head because she basically reacted to things in the same way I would. Well, okay, I’d probably tell more people about the being able to see thing since, you know, she’s blind and then—BOOM—partial vision. But I loved that she went off on Mason when he was being a broody, mean jackwad. And I loved that she went off on her mom because the woman deserved it. She stood up for herself, which I respected.

She’s also a terrible friend, and even with Ben’s cloud of light, she’s blind to the fact that relationships make dealing with adversity stronger. I was dying for her to get over her frustration and embarrassment enough to embrace her friends, so I was super excited to see the relationship between her and Clarissa grow. In fact, Maggie’s resistance and then reluctant friendship with Clarissa was my one of my favorite parts of the story.

But let’s be serious: The shining spot in this book is Ben. The precocious 10-year-old is super smart, sort of a perv, and totally adorable. He’s no stranger to disability (he has spina bifida) and is exactly what Maggie needs in her life—a tiny dude in early-stage Augustus Watersdom. 

As the blurb mentions, there’s romance between Maggie and Ben’s older brother, Mason, who happens to be the singer of an on-the-rise band. It’s dislike at first sight—and, yes, Maggie can see Mason, provided he’s in the bubble of light Ben emits. But while the romance is usually my favorite part of contemporary stories, I didn’t love it as much as I loved the Maggie-Ben friendship, which was basically the best thing ever.

I also loved the ending. Highlight the following spoiler-filled white type at your own peril:

I’ll be honest: I might have felt Maggie-level anger at Marci Lyn Curtis when I thought Ben was going to die. Well, anger mixed with don’t-do-this-to-me tears. It wasn’t pretty. I’m a sucker for a happy ending, and this one was perfect.

If you’re looking for a book with a great voice, a touch of magic, and disabled characters who are strong despite their disabilities, this is a great pick.

* I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Which you just read.